February 28, 2006

Horse 504 - Radio Competition

Radio Triple M across the eastern state has come up with probably the most ridiculous radio competition of all time. Following the non-success of "Commonwealth Names", Peter Berner was asked to invent the new competition and he came up with that old favourite "What Number am I Thinking of?"

Contestants are asked to guess what number Pete is thinking of between 1-10... that's it. No skill required or anything. Still I find it almost hillarious that some people do not even grasp this concept. Here are some guesses from yesterday's show:


14? The last time I checked, 14 was not between 1 and 10. In fact it's what we in the know call outside the two or greater than 10.


7 is a fine guess, but it was wrong.


7 is a fine guess, but someone else already picked it. You see, the thing with picking a number is that it doesn't change. If someone guessed and it was wrong then, it's not suddenly going to become the right number now.


Ok, strictly speaking that technically is between 1 and 10, but that's just being stupid now isn't it.


2? Guess what? You've won!

Now if you win a radio competition you win a prize. Triple M are giving away 100,000 Vietnamese Dong if you win "What Number am I Thinking of?". 100,000 D equates roughly to A$8.49. Now I don't know about you, but to go from the chance to go to the Commonwealth Games, or winning a week in a resort on Great Keppel Island to now having the chance to win $8.49 just seems a wee bit lame.

Still, it's better than a ticket in the meat tray on Nova.

February 27, 2006

Horse 503 - My Dreams Were Squashed

I was walking down to the post office at lunch time in a series of alleyways with the iPod going in my ears providing a symphony to the world. Before me was an apple on the pavement.

I kicked the apple ahead of me. I dribbled the apple, both off the outside and inside of both feet. Suddenly I found I was running and weaving in between rubbish. Doing little tricks with the apple and commanding it between my feet like a puppet on a string.

Trees became defenders and walls became the crowd and the music in my ears became a 40,000 string crowd singing and hoping for one moment of glory. Chipping the apple... no football over a defender I brought it down and had just one moment to get that last shot off in the last minute of extra time in the Cup Final.

One step inside, jigging to left and pow! It curled upwards towards the top right corner in slow motion, but then a hulking goalkeeper got in the way and the shot was saved.

... and then I looked up and realised that an Isuzu 550 Truck had just squished my apple and there was no crowd, no Cup Final and no replay next week. Some dreams aren't meant to come true... and some only exist in back alleys up and down the land.

Next time I'm using an orange!

Horse 502 - We Are Being Watched

It's rain of biblical proportions in Sydney tonight or to quote the late great James Hunt (1976 F1 World Champion), it's really filthy out there.

Anyway, I've left B's and driven into the night where rain is sheeting across the tarmac and I found this chap on Cornelia Rd with his hazard lights on, and he was standing next to his car crying.

This chap said his name was Akbar and he'd gotten a flat tyre after he'd swerved to miss a dog on the road, scuffed the kerb and burst it. The reason why he was crying was that it was his brother's car and he didn't know how to change a tyre.

So I've pulled over in the pouring rain and he told me his story, and I'm guessing that he was either in a state of shock or genuinely didn't know how to change the tyre, so I offered to do it for him.

He asked me how my day was and I told him how I'd been to church, he told me that he went to a mosque once a week so I assume that he was a practicing Muslim, but what was interesting was that he left me with a comment that's going to stay with me for a while:
"Australia is supposedly a Christian country, but only the people who tell you they are, are real Christians. They're the good people; everyone else is phony and liars."

And this was coming from a Muslim? Obviously I was changing his tyre for him and was totally saturated (so I guess that some degree of politeness was in order) but the point of the matter was that I seriously doubt if anyone else but a Christian would have bothered to help him. Now I'm not saying I'm brilliant or anything because I've only done what any decent person should have done (hey it's raining, and it's not nice to see people out in the yukkiness of a night like that) but it at least shows that people do watch and are noticing us.

And shouldn't we help people out anyway? I mean if I was stuck out in the rain on a night like tonight, I'm sure that I would think it nice if someone offered to help.

February 26, 2006

Horse 501 - Retro

When the film Grease came out in 1978 it was obvious that the period know as retro then was the 1950's. As we moved into the 1980's it was the 1960's with the idea of mods and Rock-N-Roll which found itself as the new retro, then in the 1990's we had a late surge of the 70's with films like The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Muriel's Wedding where ths music of the 1970's suddenly found themselves as retro.

Now it's the post-punk period of Atari and Hypercolour T-Shirts that are coming back as retro. Triple M which founded itself on pub-rock in the 80's has had to keep it's line-up and puts this down to Barry the Chimp.

I lived through the 80's the first time around and as far as I'm concerned they weren't much chop musically. Why am I being forced to re-live them again? Why is stuff like Cindi Lauper again popular, why are there remixes of 80s songs suddenly becoming popular? Is this the reason why Madonna is still making records (she should had given up in the 80s)? Don't even talk to me about U2 - they were crap in the 80's, right through the 90's and have continued to produce quatsch and shash right up to the present day.

I will be looking forward to the 2010's when the late 90's becomes retro. This will be after a period when we'll again have to endure whinge rock from Kurt Cobain et al. But at least then we'll get the Spin Doctors and Ratcat back on the radio.

February 23, 2006

Horse 500 - It's Later Than You Think

I wasn't sure what I was going to write for my 500th post, in fact I hadn't even gone through the planning stage but this morning on page 13 of the Sydney Morning Herald (text below - no link provided as Fairfax requires subscription) I read something that fills me with utter horror; something so hideous that I simply have to write something about it.

First, something from The Guardian (UK) 24-10-2005:
The US Food and Drug Administration has given permission for humans to receive implantable electronic tags for computerised medical information. People may now join 1 million pets, many cattle herds and assorted wildlife that already carry implantable chips, but there are questions about the usefulness and security of such a system.

A small number of people have had the chips implanted on an experimental basis, but the FDA decision paves the way for widespread medical use, said Applied Digital Solutions, the company that makes VeriChips and received approval for its device.

Under the implant procedure a doctor administers a local anaesthetic to a patient, then uses a special injector to place the rice-sized ID capsule under the collarbone or into the triceps muscle on the arm. The injector can also remove the device.

The chip itself contains no patient information, just 256 characters of memory, a radio transceiver and a tiny antenna. A scanner checks the code and then pulls up patient data through the internet, displaying it on a computer screen. Records could be anything from simple warnings about drug allergies - analogous to a medical ID bracelet - to complete medical histories. The records could be updated like any other computer record on central networks, without touching the patient.

The FDA's approval, made public on Wednesday, was needed because the device gains access to medical records. Versions of the chip are already in use in people to provide identity codes that unlock doors at secure facilities, among other uses.

Nearly 200 people working in Mexico's Attorney-General's office have been implanted with chips that grant access to secure areas containing sensitive documents. Club hoppers in Barcelona, Spain, use the microchip much like a smart card to speed drink orders and payment.
A spokeswoman for the FDA, Kathleen Quinn, said the agency looked primarily at medical safety issues, such as the potential for infection and irritation at the site of the injection.

Critics say there are economic and privacy concerns. "I don't see how it can be effective until all emergency vehicles and centres have the readers," said Richard Smith, a privacy and internet security consultant based in Boston. In addition, the medical profession would have to agree to standards for the storage and access of computerised records, something doctors have resisted.
"There's a lot of infrastructure that needs to be put into place," Mr Smith said.

The second concern is that because the chip is small and limited in memory it has relatively little security. Applied Digital cracked the pet market by donating scanners to hundreds of animal shelters and veterinary clinics. In the 15 years since, it has sold 50,000 such scanners. Initially it plans to donate 200 scanners, which cost $US650 ($900), to US trauma centres.

The chip costs about $US50 for pets, and costs for humans should be $US150 to $200, a company spokesman said.

Scary isn't it?

The Sydney Morning Herald (Aus) 23-02-2006:
A COMPANY in the US called CityWatcher has implanted radio transmitters into the arms of two of its workers. The implants ensure that only they can enter the strongroom. Apparently it is "the first known case in which US workers have been tagged electronically as a way of identifying them".

The transmitters are tiny (about the size of a grain of rice), cheap ($200 and falling fast), safe and stable. Without being maintained or replaced, they can identify someone for many years. They are injected, with a local anaesthetic, into the upper arm. They require no power source, as they become active only when scanned. There are no technical barriers to their wider deployment.

The company that makes these "radio frequency identification tags", VeriChip, says they "combine access control with the location and protection of individuals". The chips can also be implanted in hospital patients, especially children and the mentally ill. When doctors want to know who they are and what their medical history is, they simply scan them in. This, apparently, is "an empowering option to affected individuals". For a while, a school in California toyed with the idea of implanting the chips in all its pupils.

A tag such as this has a maximum range of a few metres. But another implantable device emits a signal that allows someone to be found or tracked by satellite. The patent notice says it can be used to locate the victims of kidnapping or people lost in the wilderness. There are, in other words, plenty of legitimate uses for implanted chips. This is why they bother me. A technology whose widespread deployment, if attempted now, would be greeted with horror, will gradually become unremarkable. As this happens, its purpose will begin to creep.

At first the tags will be more widely used for workers with special security clearance. No one will be forced to wear one; no one will object.

Then hospitals - and a few in the US are already doing this - will start scanning their unconscious or incoherent patients to see whether they have a tag. Insurance companies might start to demand that vulnerable people are chipped.

The armed forces will discover that they are more useful than dog tags for identifying injured soldiers or for tracking troops who are lost or have been captured by the enemy. Prisons will soon come to the same conclusion. Then sweatshops in developing countries will begin to catch on. Already the overseers seek to control their workers to the second; determining when they clock on, when they visit the toilet, even the number of hand movements they perform. A chip makes all this easier. The workers will not be forced to have them, any more than they are forced to have sex with their bosses; but if they don't accept the conditions, they don't get the job.

After that, it surely won't be long before asylum seekers are confronted with a similar choice: you don't have to accept an implant, but if you refuse, you can't stay in the country.
I think it will probably stop there. But it will become an increasingly acceptable means of tracking and identifying people who could be a danger to themselves, or who could be at risk of sudden illness or disappearance, or who are otherwise hard for companies or governments to control.

As it is with all such intrusions on our privacy, it won't be easy to put your finger on exactly what's wrong with this technology. It won't really amount to a new form of control, as all the people who accept the implants will already be subject to monitoring or tracking of one kind or another. It will always be voluntary, at least to the extent that anything the state or our employers want us to do is voluntary. But there is something utterly revolting about it. It is another means by which the barriers between ourselves and the state, ourselves and the corporation, ourselves and the machine are broken down.

In that tiny capsule we find the paradox of 21st-century capitalism: a political system that celebrates choice, autonomy and individualism above all other virtues demands that choice, autonomy and individualism are perpetually suppressed.

You can probably guess where I'm going with this. If not can I remind you of something that was written circa 1940 years ago.

John, 17-05-0070:
And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
- Revelation 13:16—18

Now for the crux, the rub and the point.

The technology currently exists to implant humans with microchips to control their actions. Not that it might happen but is currently occuring with full permission of Governments. What I have to say to both Christians and Non-Christians is slightly different, however, we should all be both scared and terrified.

Indulge me a minute on a subject of which my hatred burns; this is the M7. A motorway you ask? This motorway was built using public funds and transferred to a private consortium for its upkeep and maintenance. For this they charge a toll for the priveledge for using the road. This toll is administered and collected by electronic means by a small device called an e-Tag. There are no cash toll-booths on the road and if you do not have an e-Tag there is either a hideous fine, an increase in the toll of something that has to be arranged earlier.

This was my money as a taxpayer being used to build a road which I by virtue of the fact that I do not have an e-Tag am precluded from using. Of course you could argue that it's enitrely voluntary but of course the reality is that you are effectly banned from the road until you get an e-Tag.

What is to stop the same principle being applied to CityWatcher's microchips and details such as say... my bank account. Of course at first the system would be voluntary but inevitably it would be increasingly difficult to "buy or sell, save he that had the microchip"...? That's fantasy you say, think about this, EFTPOS was introduced to Australia in 1986. In just 20 years it's gone from being a pipedream to a fully workable system, all entirely voluntarily and as we go further we'll find it increasingly difficult to buy or sell stuff.

Perhaps I'm being a wee bit paranoid? How many people voluntarily took up plastic cards? How many people don't carry cash anymore? This is not the realms of the possible, this is almost in the realm of NOW.

Technology generally takes about 30 years to become completely normal. That school in California "toyed with the idea of implanting the chips in all its pupils." This is madness no?
Of course it wouldn't be used for anything evil now, would it? Think nuclear power - Nagasaki and Hiroshima levelled. Hydrogen cyanide - largely a bug spray, employed under the name of Zyklon B. Even Non-Christians must conceed that we're not only capable of being inhumane, we find new and novel ways to do it. If Christians don't conceed that we are inherantly evil then I'm afraid that you may wish to recheck your doctrine.

To think that this general form of technology wouldn't be used to control people by attacking their hip pockets is ludicrous. I also think it's funny how nearly 2000 years ago we were warned about this, how did John know? Especially whilst in exile on an island which to today is home to holiday makers.

WAKE UP PEOPLE, it's later than you think. WAKE UP!!

February 22, 2006

Horse 499 - What's In Your Brain?

This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs.

Anyone with a memory of the 1980s should have come across this advert somewhere, but little did they know that within their very own brain, it was likely that a parasite was already living.
Toxoplasma Gondii is a species of parasitic protozoa that lives in cats and other warm-blooded animals and can cause the disease toxoplasmosis in humans. Specifically it lives in the brain and slowly "feasts on the goo inside". Largely passed onto humans via eating meat, because its natural host is the common housecat, people who own cats are more likely to have it inside their own brain.

It is estimated that 50% of the world is infected, but this varies from country to country with 22% in the UK, 87% for France, 16% for the USA and 79% for Australia. This is really scary that half of the world have a parasite in their brain, and you know what, there's literally no known cure or way to fight this thing.

Toxoplasmae are hardy little bastards (I deliberately use this word for all implications) and have a livable temperature range of -5°C to to 65°C. Human body temperature is 37.4°C which is bang in the middle. They can hibernate for up to 12 years which is kind of scary and on top of all this, they're virtually resistant to all known chemicals.
In fact the only known cure is to remove the host... you can guess the implications of that. Worse is that it's assumed that they're at least a contributory factors in things like Alzheimer's and Schizophrenia.

So what can you do about it? Pretty well much nothing.

This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs. This is your brain being eaten alive... urk.

February 21, 2006

Horse 498 - No More Payphones

Don't say I didn't warn you but Telstra plans to remove 15% of all public payphones in an effort to "rationalise" its service. Telstra as a company states that public payphones are unprofitable. I have this to say to the people of Australia: It's your fault.

The people of Australia actually voted by means of a "mandate" for the full sale of Telstra. As a private corporation they're no longer answerable to the government or increasingly its shareholders, and you know what? There's not a damn thing anyone can do about it.

Personally I think that Telstra's plans to remove 5000 of its 32,000 public payphones is an example of things yet to come, and should be taken as an example of how Telstra will act in the future. If this degree of arrogance is occurring before the sale what can country people expect after the sale?

Australia - You deserve this, you voted for it, and yet again I'm ashamed of this country.

February 20, 2006

Horse 497 - Send Someone Else To Do It

I've just written a small note of encouragement to someone about getting up in front of a group of people and giving a devotional talk. I think that the most classic example of this was Mr Bullrush himself, Moses.

One of the most famous stories of the Old Testament was when God spoke to Moses out of a burning bush and told Moses in an audible voice what He wanted of him. What was Moses' reaction?
"O Lord, please send someone else to do it." Exodus 4:13

Even though God told Moses that He would be with him and would help him, Moses didn't want to do it. Now it is important that we put this in the proper perspective. Moses was saved by the Hand of God when he was a baby. God arranged for Moses to be raised and educated as a son of Pharaoh's daughter. This meant that Moses had all the benefits of the best education of the Egyptians, he understood the form of government Egypt was under. He knew how things worked. Now God was asking him to go back to Egypt and confront Pharaoh about the Israelites. Moses was the man who was best qualified to do this job.

Moses had a lot of reasons for asking God to send someone else, just look:
Moses said to the LORD, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue." The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say." Exodus 4:10-12

God sent Aaron to help Moses. The truth in point is that throughout the rest of Exodus, Moses does most of the talking himself, despite his lack of eloquence and slowness of speech. Even though he probably got tongue tied, God used Moses anyway.

The point of all of this is that you don't need to be Master of the Press Club, God still uses schmoes and busboys as He sees fit.

February 17, 2006

iFive - 17th Feb

Azumanga Daioh was a refreshingly different anime. There were 130 5-minute episodes or 26 25-minute compilations when shown on NHK. This meant that the jokes and episodes had to be pretty well self-contained within a small space of time, because of this the series never seems to drag on at all, often falling into the surreal.
The manga when serialised into the Japan Post was different in that instead of being a long running series, it more resembles a 4 panel gag strip like we see in Western daily papers. Thus, it too required to be written with the same snappy tempo, only branching into major stories at the beginning of a quarter or in between holidays for the colour supplement.
The theme song is equally baffling.

1. Friend or Foe - Tatu
2. Sora Mimi Keeki (Fancy Hearing Cake) - Azumanga Daioh
3. No Good Advice - Girls Aloud
4. Boulevard of Broken Dreams - Green Day
5. Merry-Go-Round - Emma Bunton

February 16, 2006

Horse 496 - From The Trading Floor

Shock spread across the trading floor this morning when a major case of fraud was uncovered. Robbie Martin of class 2F promised to buy the class some jelly babies if they promised to be his friend; when it was discovered that all he could afford was some potato chips, he was nigelised and suspended from trading. He still has no friends.

The value of a Peanut Butter sandwich shot up by 4% today when the kid from 1P with brown hair opened his lunchbox and a stinky meat smell came out. Egg Salad remained trading slowly and a Honey sandwich firmed in late trading. Chicken is still trading steady compared to the Ham sandwich.

Technology stocks improved today as Metallic Tazos strengthened against Foils. It was reported that Football Cards are out trading Basketball Cards by ten to one and Cricket Cards are making a summer comeback. 3 Glen McGraths are going for 1 Ricky Ponting and a Michael Clarke.

Over at the Sports Desk, news went wild when it was announced what the rankings would be for handball. They will be: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Dunce, Double Dunce, Nigel and Double Nigel. Everything from Jack up will be safe and there will be no rules on Old Ace. First Ace will be decided by whose tennis ball it is.

Class 6B was saddened when it was announced that Renaye and Jordan are not going out anymore. Renaye said that "he pulled my hair and he smells worse than the bins" and Jordan said that "girls are stupid and I never liked her anyway". The school newspaper reports that this lasted 2 days.

What's going on behind the bike shed?
Chewing Gum: If it's under the desk, is it bad for you?

February 15, 2006

Horse 495 - Fin

Snoopy called 15th of Feb "Gloat Day" but the reason that I mention this date in history because it was 60 years ago today, that one of the most influential automobile prototypes rolled out of the designer's mind and onto the factory floor.

Before WW2 the automobile had made great advances. Unitary body construction meant that the wheel wings fused into the bodywork. Cars became more streamlined and headlamps melded back into the wings rather than being on stalks, they actually became the eyes of the vehicle. The radiator grille instead of being this massive grate out the front, sunk back into the front of the vehicle and acted more like the car's mouth.

By 1940 most cars were swept off at the back and looked like they were pushed forwards towards the A-Pillar, but something magical was being cooked up in the halls of GM, something that would spark a fire that would last 10 years and possibly the greatest era of car design.
In 1946 all over the world, car design had stagnated. The great Automotive companies were called up for wartime duty and were churning out war machines. Ford and GM were both making Sherman tanks, BMW was built jets for the Luftwaffe, Mercedes-Benz were also building Aero engines as were Mitsubishi, Rolls-Royce and even Packard. So in 1946 when servicemen were returning home, they found that the cars they could buy were virtually identical in styling to the cars of 1938.

Because Europe and Japan had been bombed, buying cars wasn't a first priority. The jump on new trends and styling came from the USA. In fact Bertone and Pininfarina had already setup design studios in California. Having said this, in America there were really only 3 camps: GM, Ford & Chrysler. Which car you bought depended on how rich you were and which camp you belonged to (I am a Ford person). Over at GM, the 1948 Cadillac had something which had never been seen before - the fin.

Look at it. Doesn't it look familiar? Well if it doesn't may I again remind you of that little incident called WW2? During that time, although the Spitfire saved Britain, it was the P-51 that earnt the moniker of "Cadillac of the Skies", but Cadillac took its inspiration from the P-38 Lightning with its twin booms and twin tails. These translated nicely to the back of their cars and soon aircraft influences were everywhere - Ford had single spinners and dual spinners in 1951 as did Studebaker.
The twin fins on the back of the '48 Eldorado seemed to almost shout out the fact that America had won the war. From a practical point of view, it allowed light clusters to be pushed out to the corners and still retain that swoopy tail end.

Fins would settle on all cars becoming more and more garish as they went. One only has to think of the '57 Chev Bel Air or the '59 Cadillac Eldorado to see where it all went. Ushered in with the sounds of Rock & Roll, the fin defined an era. By about 1960 it dawned on people that fins were condusive to rust easily, and so the boots of cars were up lifted and the fins were hinted at when cars squared up.

My request to modern car stylists is please give us cars that look like bits of automotive art again. Nobody waxes lyrical about the 1997 Camry do they? I've not seen people go doe-eyed for a 2005 Honda Accord and do you know why? After it's all said and done, people have to live with their cars. It's as much about making a statement as it is about getting from A to B via all points C. Let the stylists loose again, give us something to dream about.

February 14, 2006

Meine Prinzessin und liebe liebe Dame.
Ich liebe Dich, meine schatzi.

February 13, 2006

Horse 494 - All Used Up

My little blue NIV has finally expired. The back cover finally fell off after a few years of services. This would probably be about the 6th or 7th I've run into the ground now.

I'm not one of these compulsive underliners (for I fear that the whole thing would be underlined before too long) but instead I insert A6 slips of paper with notes on. The problem lies in the fact that after about 3 weeks there's then like 41 extra bits of paper in there. If you keep on adding notes, and moving them and then removing then, eventually the spines of the bible get old and break at the joins. Usually my bibles fail because the covers tear off at the top or bottom.

It doesn't help much that there will usually be one riding shotgun either in my satchel that goes everywhere, one will sit in the car just in case and my big parallel NIV/KJV lives slowly turning into a cheeseburger of post-it notes and other slips on the bedside table.

Legendary bibles have failed because they get used as a hammer or a pillow (go B!) but above all they serve a far more useful purpose. The text contained within those covers is precious and valuable, and wait for it, you might actually learn something about the author... God himself!

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. - Psalm 119:11

Considering that the text contained within these bound pages is both lengthy and complex, the only defense I've found to deal with the situations where I've not had mine at the time or, invariably where the pages will fail, is to learn it, hide it, and bury it. I take a leaf from Science Court here - Learn it, Use it, Wear it out.

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. - Luke 6:45

I like to think of squirrels or the nutcracker who store great hoardes of nuts. Perhaps if I bury enough stuff, I can dig it up again and give away the treasure at a later date.
In the meantime, I'm still going to wear out these things... I guess they just don't build 'em like they used to.

Addenda: It also appears as though vandals have decided that the rear window of my Ka would be best served by shattering in into bits. They gave me a present of half a brick (how thoughtful) but it looks as though they were in so much of a rush to give it to me that they forgot to open the windows first.
I suspect that they may have been on a mission to liberate my iPod "Gipsy". Gipsy was well hidden away as I don't want her stolen; she wasn't going to do any wandering last night.
What really annoyed me was that my big parallel NIV/KJV was torn in half by the dirty vandals. That's just nasty.

February 12, 2006

Horse 493 - Making Sushi

Sushi is not raw fish as is sometimes misconstrued, but the basic recipe for sushi rice is dead simple.

6 cups rice (Japonica)
6 cups water
2/3 cup rice vinegar
4 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt

Cooking rice requires just a little bit of thought. It's best to cover your rice in a saucepan or rice cooker with water and keep on boiling, whilst stirring it. The best test to check whether rice is ready is to bite a few grains. As its virtually impossible to overboil rice, the test is simple. Basically if there's still a hard core in the middle, then it's not done yet.

Next it's important to wash your rice. This is done to remove the outermost layer of starch, but also because we want to replace that starchy coast with a much more subtle flavour.

The last thing you want to do is to prepare your rice vinegar. The way to do this is on a low heat until all of the sugar and salt is dissolved. The two components are now ready to add together.

Do you remember in Year 7 Home Ec. what it meant by folding? It's simple, all one needs to do is fold your rice vinegar mixture through the rice. I've found by experience that its best to do this wih either a plastic spatula with holes in, or a wooden spoon. You want to do this quickly without smashing the rice to bits.

Once this is done, the whole lot is bunged in the fridge for use later. Even if you want it immediately, you'll still need about 3 hours in there.

That's about it. The rest of the process involves what you intend to make out of it, or how it's going to be prepared. Nori is resonably avaliable at most Asian groceries now. And Salmon cutlets retail for about $25/kg.

Word of note here: White fish doesn't work at all with sushi. The reason for this is that it needs to be cooked to able to eat it, and by that stage, it flakes. This is the main reason why salmon and tuna are the primary of the fish netto used in sushi, though equally beef and chicken can be used without any trouble at all.

There is a place in Balmain that does some really interesting takoyaki served on a bed of sushi. The subtlety of sushi with the satisfyingly greasy takoyaki are interesting in combination.

Anyone who's eaten the sushi I'vew made will attest that the recipe works really well. The fact is that I was taught by a sushi shop in Mosman after I asked the lady behind the counter for the recipe, and she not only gave me a recipe but a three hour lesson in making it.

Also, I read this episode of Divulge a couple of weeks before hand and made this post in response all the way back on the 28th of last month. Have I eaten real sushi? I can make it!

February 10, 2006

iFive - 10th Feb

Following the ever lovely Katja's blog entry on the Volkswagen Golf, I played the addictive song Da Da Da a few times. Actually there's two versions of this called: "Da Da Da ich lieb dich nicht du liebst mich nicht aha aha aha" & "Da Da Da I Don't Love You You Don't Love Me Aha Aha Aha" - bit of a mouthful isn't it?
In 1982 Trio launched what would be known as the musical style of Neue Deutsche Fröhlichkeit, which means "New German Cheerfulness", though the industrial techno bands that would come from tne dismal side of the Iron Curtain weren't very cheerful at all.

1. My Big Mouth - Oasis
2. Bright Eyes - Simon & Garfunkel
3. The Hot Dog Man - Tripod
4. Da Da Da - Trio
5. I'll Be Back - The Beatles

Horse 492 - Five Stones and a Slang

Have you ever seen that episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where Captain Picard is trapped on a deserted planet with an alien who only speaks in allegory? You know, "Shaka, when the walls fell" and such.
It's a well-known episode that comes up a great deal in discussions of literary and linguistic theory, or when nerds start developing their own language that makes no sense to others.
While I've talked about it in the first context before, I'm here to talk about the second. Over the years, my friends and I have developed a complex network of in-jokes, references and exclamations that are quickly approaching unintelligibility to the uneducated outsider. Here are some examples of things that are just on the border of making sense:

"This is a game of beans and HIGH ADVENTURE!"
"Schmick, goat, pudding, kebabs"
"Go build a table"
"I think you just stood in Winnie"
"Nice Chaminda"
And the gimme that most people actually WILL understand,
"They're just nonsense words, like rama-lama-ding-dong or 'give peace a chance'"

Because of my experience with my friends, I firmly believe that it is mankind's destiny to rape the English language further and further within small groups of nerdy friends, until finally, some time in the distant future, people living two houses from each other will find each other's slang incomprehensible, yet will understand "Louie Louie" perfectly.

Okay, maybe not that last part.

PS: Is pwnX0r3d a stronger version of pwn3d? I don't know about these things, the grammar for 1337 hasn't settled yet.

February 08, 2006

Horse 491 - The Rainbow Connection

Have you been half asleep?And have you heard voices?
I've heard them calling my name.

This sounds like it could be schizophrenia.

Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors?
The voice might be one and the same.

Something to do with the Sirens of mythology perhaps?

I've heard it too many times to ignore it
It's something that I'm s'posed to be.

It's possible that you could have tinitis, you should probably see a doctor.

Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers, and me.

I've found it, it's on the Northern, Circle, Picadilly, Victoria and Bakerloo lines. You can stop looking now. Please see below.

February 07, 2006

Horse 490 - Addicted to Oil

In George W Bush's State of the Union address he said the following: "Here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world,"

I thought about this a bit and realised that the cause of this might be inherent in the way that the USA does buisiness. A lot of the north-eastern states of the USA use heating oil in the winter, and industry has to account for a fair amount considering that the USA has the world's biggest GDP. One thing my sister mentioned when she went over there was that the cars were huge; this doesn't include SUV's which in the cities are a bind more than an advantage. So then, what's to be done about it?

I've been doing a spot of research at cars currently for sale in the USA. The smallest cars that I find at 1.6L. 97 Cubes! That's the smallest? What's going on here?

It would appear that there's a slew of cars hovering at around the 2.2L mark. The Ford Focus is on sale at Ford and it appears that the 1.8 variant isn't on sale and as for the Fiesta, that car doesn't even make the line up.
Over at GM the Aveo (read Daewoo Kalos, Holden Barina, and Chevrolet Kalos in Europe) they sell the 1.6L but not the 1.3, 1.1 or 899cc variants that are elsewhere in the world.
Toyota sell a 1.8L Corolla and the 1.5L Yaris will be added in 2007. Honda sell the Civic but not the Jazz and Hyundai have the Accent at 1.6L but the Getz is absent. Renault, Citroen and Peugeot also appear to be non-existant.

The "addiction to oil" as George W puts it is actually caused in part by the fact that Americans
a) don't buy smaller cars
b) can't buy smaller cars
c) have cheap gas prices, so the need simply isn't there

In crowded Europe a small cars are popular and plentiful. The price of petrol in California is on average $2.42/US gal.

The following is in US cents per litre:
USA - 63.929c
Aus - 86.065c
Can - 92.583c
UK - 155.241c
Ger - 158.020c
Fra - 140.076c
Spa - 118.501c

It would appear that cheap gas prices actually contribute to the fact that people will drive a bigger car. Australia has slightly more expensive prices than the USA and so there are a lot more smaller cars here.

The solution would probably shock most people, simply impose higher taxes. If people are taxed more for their petrol, then they'll more than likely demand smaller cars and use less of the stuff.
Another solution which I have come up with is fun - buy your cars in Mexico. Because people are on average poorer, the cars tend to be cheaper and more fuel efficient. If I ever live in the USA then for sure I'll be going to a Ford dealer in Tijuana and buying...

Well, it's the natural solution isn't it; it's so cuuuuute ^_^

February 06, 2006

Horse 489 - What I Think of Hamas

Basically I think that Hamas as an organisation have no rights to exist. Logically they deny their own history. In order to prove this, first we need to know what they stand for as an organisation.

Hamas is an acrorym for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya or in English, Islamic Resistance Movement; it's also the Arabic word for "zeal". Hamas seeks to establish an Islamic theocracy in the area that is currently Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. In pursuit of this end, Hamas affirms a right to engage in armed struggle.

Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi, a co-founder of Hamas, reportedly stated that the movement's goal is "to remove Israel from the map". While during the 2006 election campaign Hamas dropped its call for the destruction of Israel from its manifesto but several Hamas candidates insist that the charter is still in force and often called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" in their campaign speeches. Their main assertion is that the land currently held by the state of Israel was stolen off them in 1948 and that it should return to the state before then.

What was that state?

The area of Palestine was invaded by the Romans and set up King Herod as a Jewish figurehead king in 19BC, with his death in 6BC or thereof the state was then under direct Roman rule. The city existed like this until 70AD when during riots it was razed.
When the Roman Empire snapped in half in 330 it became part of the Eastern Roman Empire and then when the Ottomans assumed control in 1453, it remained that way until the breakup of that empire until 1917 when the British took over under the Balfour Declaration.
In 1922 the area was again split into the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan (which still exists) and Palestine which comprised both modern Israel and Palestine. This split was as a result of the Balfour Declaration and a set of plans were drawn up for a further constitution known as the Palestine Mandate.

Article 2 of the Palestine Mandate stated that the administration would "secure the establishment of the Jewish national home", while "safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine".
In addition, Article 25 of the mandate stated that all territory east of the Jordan was, in most part, at Britain's will, withheld from all provisions of the mandate.
In 1948 it was decided to repatriate Jewish peoples to their homeland after the terrible atrocities of the Nazi regime in Germany. This was signed by the governors of Palestine who at the time consisted of 12 Arabic and 12 Jewish leaders.

Therefore the fact that Hamas in principle wishes to deny the existance of the state of Israel, actually by inference denounces that they should have the right to exist themselves. The conditions which created Israel actually gave rise to their own homeland which in 1922 was never invisaged.

There could be another reason - Palestinians hate the Jews and have elected terrorists as their government.

February 03, 2006

iFive - 3rd Feb

Sometimes the iPod throws up things for the week that make literally no sense at all. Why for instance did I hear the ad for Volkswagen 4 times this week? We got the same song as an ad for Sakata rice crackers, it would be interesting to find out what the original song was. Perhaps it's on a Happy Hardcore compilation or summat. Who knows?

1. Wannabe - Spice Girls
2. Booked Toilet Seat Passengers - City Rail Annoucement
3. He Wasn't - Avril Lavigne
4. The Hitler Rap - Mel Brooks
5. Da Da Da Volkswagen - Advert

February 02, 2006

Horse 488 - Media Watch (of me?)

I'm always interested to read some of the flotsam and jetsam that flows around the world wide web. It appears as though even this little cul-de-sac on the information superhighway has come to the attention of the "architect of The Daily Telegraph's P-plate campaign"

Just on 13 months ago, The Daily Telegraph ran a series of articles devoted to road safety among younger drivers. I'd searched the contents of the newspapers over the previous 14 days before I'd made my assessments and reached the conclusions which can be found in Horse 242.

Ricky Sutton who used to be the news editor of The Daily Telegraph and if I remember correctly The News of The World in the UK has made his reply and is also attached as a comment in Horse 242 (but only on 31st Jan 2005). Subsequent to this was a follow up in Horse 256. The final conclusion to this occured in Horse 262.

Mr Sutton has also made comments within Prawn's blog also on this subject. The Prawn was arguing the apparantly silliness of imposing a curfew on P-Plate drivers.

What I find somewhat strange about the whole affair is the The Telegraph itself would respond to critiscisms of the tone of its news reportage. I'd questioned the motives for their reporting and their push for sensationalism.

To wit:
But most troublesome of all for me, is your comment about our perceived lack of "objectivity in reporting".All the details in the reports are factual, yet you appear to be suggesting that a newspaper exists to be a record of history rather than being entitled to have an opinion.If a newspaper is not to have a view on a topic which is killing more young people in its region than cancer and drugs combined, then that paper should consign itself to history.It is the vanilla flavour of much of our so-called quality media's coverage that is leading readers - especially young ones - to desert them in droves.
- Ricky Sutton, ex Editor in Chief of the Daily Telegraph 31-01-06.

There's an interesting point to be made here. The Daily Telegraph is a Murdoch paper and has been critisised by people in much higher places of import than myself over its practices and slant in order to sell newspapers. Perhaps similar in character to The Sun in the UK which is also Murdoch owned, the Daily Telegraph will often fill its space below the masthead with something equally flash.

If my complaint was to do with a "lack of objectivity" and you counter that with the argument that suggests that it isn't the purpose of the newspaper, then my question is what then is the point of the newspaper? If it isn't to inform and entertain (a record of history - ie what's happened) then what is the point of the paper? If it is to espouse an opinion then surely I should be allowed my own opinion - which is the primary purpose of a blog is it not?

What finally convinced me was that The Telly dropped all coverage on the subject after the 30th of November and the final day of elligibility for the journalism awards. They could argue that it was no longer newsworthy but if the paper is not a record of history and intends to have a view on a topic, it fell silent on the matter incredibly quickly.

And why make a comment some 13 months later anyway?